A new study shows a whole new reason why the world should favor medical cannabis: it may actually make for a much safer workplace. An analysis of nationwide data found that within five years of legalizing medical marijuana, states experience an average 34% drop in workplace deaths.

The study, called “Medical marijuana laws and workplace fatalities in the United States,” was published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. Researchers crunched data on workplace deaths in all 50 states and the District of Columbia over a period from 1992 to 2015.

Beyond the whopping 34% decline in workplace deaths, the study also found some other interesting factoids. For instance, states which included pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana treatment or allowed collective cultivation saw greater reductions in fatalities than states which did not.

In addition, while the study found a big difference in workplace deaths among workers 25-44, it found that for workers 16-24 “was not statistically significant.”

Dr. Mark Anderson, Ph.D, is one of the principal researchers behind the study. “I think the fact that the effects show up for young adults only was pretty interesting and consistent with some of our other research on medical marijuana laws,” Anderson told Leafly. “We find that it is generally young adults who are affected by these laws.”

While the researchers don’t know exactly why they’ve seen a correlation between medical marijuana and a one third drop in workplace fatalities, they have some hypotheses for further research, suggesting a possible link between increased MMJ use and the decreased use of alcohol and other drugs:

The results provide evidence that legalizing medical marijuana improved workplace safety for workers aged 25–44. Further investigation is required to determine whether this result is attributable to reductions in the consumption of alcohol and other substances that impair cognitive function, memory, and motor skills.

Photo via Flickr user Martijn

Natalie